Does Allergy Medical Therapy Work?
Seasonal allergy symptoms often seem like something you just have to live with. There are four distinct ways to handle allergies: avoidance, medical therapy, immunotherapy and non-pharmacological therapy. If you are fortunate enough to suffer from symptoms that are not too severe, medical therapy may be the right treatment for you.
Medical Therapy Categories
Medical therapy consists of six major drug categories: antihistamines, decongestants, nasal corticosteroids, decongestant nasal sprays, allergy eye drops and mast cell inhibitors. While not all of the drugs described below require a prescription, we recommend speaking with your Houston allergy doctor before starting any new medication. Visiting your Houston allergy clinic will give your allergy doctor a chance to complete allergy testing and review your symptoms; this information will help your allergy doctor determine which medication will best treat your type of allergies.
Antihistamines work by reducing or blocking histamines, chemicals produced by the immune system that are responsible for many common allergy symptoms including runny nose, stuffy nose and itchy and watery eyes. They are available in tablets, capsules, liquids, nasal sprays and eye drops. Common side effects of antihistamines include drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness and nausea. Below are the most common antihistamines brands:
Decongestants are used to treat a stuffed-up nose; they work by shrinking swollen blood vessels and tissues that line the nose. They come in pills, liquids, nasal sprays and nose drops and are available over-the-counter or by prescription. Decongestants may increase anxiety or cause sleeping difficulty. If you have a medical condition such as glaucoma, high blood pressure, heart disease, thyroid disorder, diabetes or enlarged prostate, consult with a doctor before using. Common decongestants include:
If you cannot decide between an antihistamine and a decongestant, then you are in luck – many antihistamines also contain a decongestant. Common brands include:
Nasal corticosteroids are nasal sprays that reduce inflammation of the nasal lining associated with allergies. While they are extremely effective at relieving symptoms, they may cause nosebleeds, nasal dryness and sore throat. Nasal corticosteroids are generally safe to use long-term. They are usually available by prescription only. Common brands include:
Decongestant nasal sprays
Decongestant nasal sprays are used for short-term relief from nasal allergy symptoms. Overuse of these sprays can actually make symptoms worsen. Your Houston allergy doctor advises not to use decongestant nasal sprays for longer than three days. Popular brands include:
- Vicks Sinex
Allergy eye drops
Allergy eye drops help relieve the symptoms of eye allergies. These drops can be used to treat itchy or watery eyes, a burning sensation in the eyes or redness and swelling. They are available in several different types including antihistamines, anti-inflammatory, decongestants and mast cell stabilizers. Some of the more common brands include:
- Clear Eyes
- Claritin Eye
Mast cell inhibitors
Mast cell inhibitors work by preventing the release of histamines the immune system produces in response to allergens. This type of medications may be used to prevent allergy symptoms such as runny nose or itchy, watery eyes and is available in the form of nasal sprays and eye drops. Unlike other medications on this list, Mast cell inhibitors must be taken a week or two before the start of allergy season, and continued on a daily basis for the duration of the season.
If you are ready to finally find relief from your allergy symptoms, contact your local Houston allergy doctor.